‘Real Bar-B-Que: An Elusive Meat’: 4th Grader Makes Audience Salivate

A National Barbecue News Special

TALLAHASSEE, FL — “If I asked, ‘Want some Bar-B-Que?’  Would you say, “Sure!” or “No thanks”?  If the answer is “no,” I would speculate that you have not had real Bar-B-Que. Why? Because if you have had it, you couldn’t say no.

“The problem? Real Bar-B-Que is elusive.”

With those words, for the third time, Hawks Rise Elementary 4th Grade student Sloan Finger began his quest to win yet another level of the annual 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest.

The Public Speaking Contest grew from a single teacher’s efforts in Palmetto, Florida.  “Designed to give students experience in the preparation and delivery of a speech,” what began with Mrs. Inez Pettigrew in 1952 has, through the hard work of 4-H extension offices, “expanded to accommodate hundreds of thousands of students all over the state of Florida” today.
Sloan, with his speech entry, researched and explained the cooking, or as he relayed, “smoke it low and slow” process that produces “Real Bar-B-Que.”

He addressed the fact that people, incorrectly, “believe that by simply adding Bar-B-Que Sauce to the top of a meat, it makes it Bar-B-Que.” And he spoke to the injustice perpetrated on students at “my old school, (where) they made Sloppy Joes, and called them Bar-B-Que sandwiches.”

Sloan also emphasized that “grilling hotdogs and hamburgers quickly over an open flame is not, just like those Sloppy Joes at my old school, I repeat, not Bar-B-Que!”

After earning 1st place in two qualifying rounds, he advanced to the county-wide competition where his efforts garnered 3rd place in a process that began with more than 4500 participating 4th and 5th grade students from 35 different schools.

After the awards program, Sloan was literally sought out and pigeon-holed by multiple people inquiring, as if he were an Ambassador, about the location of “Real Bar-B-Que” restaurants and the whereabouts of his “family M-E-A-T-I-N-G-S.”

But the true impact of his speech is best judged by the fact that when he went for some celebratory BBQ afterwards, multiple families from the speech contest suddenly showed up, unbeknownst to Sloan and his family, at the restaurant.  They each pointed to Sloan and told the restaurant owner, “His speech is why we are here!”

The owner then offered to comp Sloan’s meal, because he recognized, at the end of the day, like the end of Sloan’s speech, “the highlight is: a beautiful-pink-smoke-ring on a melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy piece of pulled pork.  The taste: FABULOUS!

 “And if you have ever had this elusive meat known as Real Bar-B-Que, believe me, you couldn’t say no!”


Editor’s note: To view Sloan’s award winning speech in its entirety, please visit www.BarbecueNews.com homepage.

Submitted photo
Sloan Finger with his 4-H Tropicana Public Speaker Contest award after giving a speech on “Real Bar-B-Que: An Elusive Meat.”

Submitted photo
The Finger family enjoys some of the “elusive meat.”

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